California restricting electricity-guzzling TV sets


The San Francisco Chronicle reports California state regulators Wednesday approved limits on how much energy televisions can consume, citing the increased use of power-guzzling flat-panel sets (especially plasma).

The new rules, adopted unanimously by the California Energy Commission, will require manufacturers to cut the power televisions use by one-third in two years and in half by 2013 by setting wattage ceilings.

Consumers are expected to save $8.1 billion in energy costs over a 10-year period as a result of the restrictions, without sacrificing high-definition pictures, the commission said. The panel also cited a study that showed the energy savings could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 million metric tons a year – the equivalent of taking 500,000 cars off the road – in part by eliminating the need for a new power plant.

Under the new rules, all new 42-inch TV sets must use less than 183 watts by 2011 and less than 115 watts by 2013. That compares with a 42-inch Hitachi plasma TV sold in 2007, which uses 313 watts, and a 42-inch Sharp liquid-crystal display, or LCD, TV that draws 232 watts, according to the Energy Commission. But consumers don’t have to wait two years, according to state regulators. The commission said there are already 1,000 televisions on the market that meet the 2011 standards and 300 that meet the 2013 benchmarks.

The Consumer Electronics Association warned the move could hamper innovation and leave California consumers without access to new technologies:  “CEA is extremely disappointed in the CEC’s decision to regulate TV energy use. Simply put, this is bad policy—dangerous for the California economy, dangerous for technology innovation and dangerous for consumer freedom. Instead of allowing customers to choose the products they want, the Commission has decided to impose arbitrary standards that will hamper innovation and limit consumer choice. It will result in higher prices for consumers, job losses for Californians, and lost tax revenue for the state.

The CEC’s actions over the past year demonstrate that this regulatory process is broken. The commissioners repeatedly rebuffed attempts from the CE industry to provide input or correct the litany of errors and flawed assumptions upon which these misguided regulations are based. With tax revenues and jobs at risk, the citizens of California deserve a more reasoned and fact-based approach to regulation. The Commission has ignored the concerns of small business owners and consumers who will be adversely impacted by these regulations and the detrimental effect they will have on California’s job market and economy.

Energy efficiency is a shared concern for all parties. In fact, the consumer electronics industry has led the effort to reduce energy usage by with innovative, energy-efficient products, and consumers have responded with increased demand for these products.  The industry has been so successful, that in the last two years alone energy efficiency of televisions has improved by 41%. But rather than build on these efforts, the CEC chose to create a new regulatory regime and micromanage the design and development of future televisions.

We will continue to pursue legislative and legal solutions to ensure that California citizens will not suffer the consequences of this misguided policy.”

RBR-TVBR observation: As we’ve said before, as nice as these sets look, the next time you are at an electronics retailer – or even Wal-Mart or Target – put your hand on the screen of one of these larger plasma sets in operation… could almost fry an egg on some of them. They do put out a lot of power. However, where California is concerned, they should have long ago built more power plants to handle their growing population. Remember the blackouts and brownouts a few summers ago? Remember the ridiculous electric bills those consumers were paying? The state needs to look at its own inability to handle electric demands in general before it starts limiting what consumers can plug into their walls. Otherwise, next it will be washers and dryers, vacuums, etc.